Court hears challenge to Manitoba personal cannabis growth ban

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MANITOBA’S ban on homegrown weed is undermining the federal government’s goal when it legalized marijuana in the first place, say lawyers for a local pot advocate fighting the prohibition.

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Hey there, time traveller!
This article was published 03/05/2022 (281 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.

MANITOBA’S ban on homegrown weed is undermining the federal government’s goal when it legalized marijuana in the first place, say lawyers for a local pot advocate fighting the prohibition.

The Manitoba government has “done exactly the opposite of what the federal government thought was the right thing to do,” Kirk Tousaw, a lawyer for TobaGrown founder Jesse Lavoie, said outside court Monday, following a full day of arguments before Queen’s Bench Justice Shauna McCarthy.

“What they are actually doing is supporting and fostering the black market.”

JESSE BOILY / FREE PRESS FILES Jesse Lavoie anticipates being in the legal battle for quite some time.

Canada’s Cannabis Act allows adults to cultivate up to four cannabis plants per household for recreational use. Manitoba and Quebec have banned homegrown recreational weed.

“It’s something I have wanted to do for so long while working in the industry, but just because I live here I can’t do it, while 74 per cent of Canada is allowed to do it,” said Lavoie, who is supporting his court fight through GoFundMe and the sale of pre-rolled TobaGrown joints at dozens of Manitoba dispensaries.

The province argues it is entitled regulate the homegrown production of marijuana. Those who grow cannabis for recreational use face a fine of $2,542.

It is the federal government who has the authority to enact criminal laws, Tousaw said, alleging the provincial government has “overstepped its bounds” in banning growing marijuana at home.

Criminal law is basically a prohibition backed by a penalty aimed at a social ill or injurious practices, Tousaw said. “When the Cannabis Act legalized growing up to four plants, it permitted people to do that — it was no longer a criminal offence to grow cannabis.

“The federal government legalized growing up to four plants for a particular purpose, and that purpose was to undermine the black market, reduce the burden on the criminal justice system and keep people from getting a record,” Tousaw said. “By recriminalizing it, the province has undermined those purposes.”

Concerns home growers may resell their marijuana are exaggerated and hypocritical, Tousaw said.

“We can make our own beer and we don’t fret about whether you are going to sell it to your neighbour and make a couple of bucks,” he said. “We know it happens, but we don’t fret about it. I think what we are running into is just a stigma against cannabis people, and we are tired of it.”

McCarthy reserved her decision.

 

dean.pritchard@freepress.mb.ca

Dean Pritchard

Dean Pritchard
Courts reporter

Someone once said a journalist is just a reporter in a good suit. Dean Pritchard doesn’t own a good suit. But he knows a good lawsuit.

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